GALLOWAY - The annual Atlantic County Teacher/Educational Service Professionals Recognition Luncheon celebrated 116 of the top educators in the county April 6 at the Carriage House here.

Seventy-two teachers and 44 educational services professionals were nominated as top educators by their peers and were honored during the luncheon.

“Each of you are to be commended for focusing on each child and their individual needs whether that be academic, social or emotional,” Dr. Richard Stepura, interim executive county superintendent, said during the ceremony. “Each of you have evidenced the ability to connect with your students in a positive and a productive manner, and your hard work and your selfless effort is being recognized today by our legislators, our superintendents of schools, board members, principals, higher education and ultimately and especially your peers.”

Dr. Gary Jerue was named the 2016-17 Atlantic County Teacher of the Year. He is a seventh-grade mathematics teacher at the Richmond Avenue School in Atlantic City, and has worked in education for 15 years.

A panel of judges consisting of a local administrator, a teacher, an Education Association member and a parent selected Jerue as the county’s nomination for the State Teacher of the Year Award. He was recognized for his three-pillar philosophy for teaching which includes promoting positive learning, sparking enthusiasm for learning, and providing a strong foundation for lifelong learning.

“I hope to represent Atlantic County well. There is some excellent teaching in Atlantic County and I want to be a model representative of that excellence,” said Jerue.

The ceremony included speeches from Michael Martirone, 2015-16 Atlantic County Teacher of the Year, and Chelsea Collins, 2015-16 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year.

Martirone, a history teacher in Egg Harbor Township, challenged his peers to “do something amazing,” to “invest in education,” and to be “ambassadors for students” and “advocates for the teaching profession.”

The program was sponsored by the Atlantic County Office of Education, Atlantic County Government, Atlantic County Association of School Administrators, Atlantic County District PTA and PTO Associations, Southern Regional Institute/Educational Technology Training Center of Stockton University and the Atlantic County Council of Education Associations.

Top educators include:

• Absecon School District: David Seals, Jenna Graves and Patricia Wagner;

• Atlantic City School District: Veronica Gaskill, Elizabeth Toland, Patricia Hubert, Allison Devinney, Gary Elwell, Jason Holmstrom, Chaia Jennings, Jeanne Martin, Mitea Lakins, Bonnie Lynch, Jennifer Afanador, Gary Jerue, Virginia Torres, Sunae Usyk, Barbara Grandy, Lisa Thieberger, Matthew Freund, Jeremy Straughn, Patrice Holts and Aubrey Luckey;

• Atlantic County Special Services School District: Doug Moses and Carol Haneman-Nylund;

• Atlantic County Vocational School District: Marra Pizio and Victoria Ragone;

• Brigantine School District: Lisa Ann Karsko and Karen Carrington;

• Buena Regional School District: Candice Enders, Carrye Jargowsky, Antonio Mancini, Jacob Yutzy, Anna “Amy” Collins, Sharon Ricci, Amanda Burt, Mary Jo Capone, Cathy Daubenspeck and Angela Villecco-Mead;

• Egg Harbor City School District: Denise DiGerolamo and Angela Maione;

• Egg Harbor Township School District: Deandra Martin-Rutkowski, Joyce Menchaca, Kerri Pratt, Amy McDermott, Susan Slusarski, Laurie Toscano, Angela Sharbaugh-Hunt, Kathleen Widas, Jennifer Joline, Obed Perez, Arlene Pustizzi, Karen Leo, Jill Pappas, Kimberly DeNaples and Lynne Frisch;

• Estell Manor School District: Ellen Fatcher;

• Folsom School District: Megan Scheer and Lisa Smith;

• Galloway Township School District: Jeremiah Paton, Patricia Palumbo, Carol Santo, Robyn Devine, Joanmarie Esposito and Donna North;

• Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District: Theresa Sartorio, Sean Swanson, James Goodrich, Sherry Miller, Stephanie M. Darrell, Amy B. Salcedo;

• Hamilton Township School District: Ann Bucknam, Laura Verzi-Aleszczyk, Suzanne Burnetta and Debora Conrad;

• Hammonton School District: Gina Giralo, Marissa Carrafiello, Geoffrey Gollihur and Toni Ellen Lagona;

• Linwood School District: Cynthia O’Kane, Frank Pileiro and Kristi Grimley;

• Mainland Regional School District: Danielle Berndt and Robert Roesch;

• Mullica Township School District: Todd Curll, William Maher, Loretta Becker and Lauren Markov;

• Northfield School District: Karen Batschelet, Mary Beth McGrath and Adam Law;

• Pleasantville School District: Dorothea Bickel, Alyse Skeele, Ruth Cohenson, Bruce Harper, Norine Bailey, Michelle McCline, Tracy Boswell, Stephen Katzen, Jeanette Reed, Ruth Homer, Kelly Turner, Rosemarie Giunta and Sherri Michel;

• Port Republic School District: N. Barbara Kirner and Catherine Muniz;

• Somers Point School District: Laura Trapani, Melanie Wagner, Sheila Altomare, Robin Wolf-Smith, Dawn DePlato and Julia Lindsay;

• Ventnor School District: Micki Ferranti-Martin and Christopher Kane;

• Weymouth Township School District: Phyliss Lopez;

• ChARTer-TECH High School for the Performing Arts: Amanda Mathis

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